Laws Regulating The Trucking Industry In South Carolina
Semi trucks are large vehicles often found on South Carolina highways and rural roads. While these trucks are essential for our state’s economy because they deliver needed goods and materials to cites and towns both large and small, these vehicles are also large and dangerous.
Fortunately, these vehicles are governed by a multitude of federal laws and regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates and oversees the safety of semi trucks and other commercial vehicles. The agency works to help prevent accidents and associated injuries and fatalities.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has many laws in place to regulate the trucking industry and the drivers entrusted with these vehicles. One of the laws covers so-called “hours of service” regulations. Semi trucks are considered “property-carrying vehicles”, which means that the drivers have an 11-hour driving limit and a 14-hour total limit. What this means in laymen’s terms is that after 10 consecutive hours off duty, a driver may drive 11 hours within the next 14 hours. After coming on duty, the driver cannot drive past the 14th consecutive hour. The only exception is when adverse driving conditions occur. Under those circumstances, the 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour total limit can be extended by up to two hours.
Another “hours of service” law designed to ensure our nation’s roads are as safe as possible is the 60/70-hour limit. This means drivers may not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven (7) consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in eight (8) consecutive days.
A driver can only restart a seven-day or eight-day consecutive day period after taking at least 34 consecutive hours off work.
Truck drivers are also entitled to breaks. After driving for eight (8) cumulative (but not necessarily consecutive) hours, a driver must take a 30-minute break. This break must be a non-driving period of at least 30 minutes. During this time, the driver can take a lunch break, sleep, or engage in non-driving work duties.
Purpose of Hours of Service Laws
These time limitations are in place for one main reason: to prevent driver fatigue. Driving a large truck weighing tens of thousands of pounds for many hours at a time can be a recipe for disaster if a driver is tired or distracted. When a driver is behind the wheel from the early morning hours until dark, fatigue can set in. Driving a truck for long hours can also lead to boredom, making it easier for a driver to nod off while driving. This can cause truck drivers to hit vehicles in front of them or veer off the road, causing a rollover or a fatal accident.
By limiting driving time, drivers have more time to rest. This means they are more alert and less likely to get into an accident, making the roads safer for everyone.
Contact Us Today
“Hours of service” laws are in place to protect truck drivers and others on the roadways. Sadly, semi truck crashes can often be catastrophic, causing life-changing and sometimes fatal injuries.
Truck crashes can be complex to handle. A Columbia truck accidents lawyer from Simmons Law Firm can help you deal with the liability issues involved and ensure that evidence is preserved and your rights are protected. Act quickly for best results. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (803) 779-4600 or filling out the online form.